The First Church of Cannabis in Indianapolis held its inaugural service on Wednesday in an attempt to test the recently enacted Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, news said, but no pot sessions were held for fear of arrests.
Authorities had earlier warned the Cannaterians — the church worshipers — they would not hesitate to make arrests if anyone will be caught smoking marijuana, which is illegal in Indianapolis, during their service.
Its gathering included singing a few Christian hymns such as “Amazing Grace” and other songs especially “Mary Jane.” After the hymn, the church heard testimony from its congregants about the health benefits of marijuana.
In a report, Levin said, “Opposition to the church and its teachings was akin to religious persecution.”
New York Times quoted Levin saying, “We will celebrate life’s great adventures. This is not just smoking pot and getting high. It is about the birth of a new religion. I’m a smile harvester.”
The Church was founded only in March of this year and its website says it has gathered a thousand followers around the globe and requires its members $4.20 tithing a month.
Levin criticized the lawmakers who authored the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, describing them as “clowns,” New York Times reports. He also added that if Indiana would have that kind of law, “why not test its limits and press for his long-held goal, permission to use cannabis?”
But many from the religious community in Indiana expressed negative reactions about the church.
“I don’t believe it’s a religion. I believe it is a drug house,” said local pastor from an evangelical church Bill Jenkins who was quoted by Times.
The church is seeking legalization of marijuana in Indianapolis. The 59-year-old Bill Levin, its “Grand Poobah,” described marijuana as a religious sacrament; a gift from a “supreme power from which man and woman are to use for the betterment of humankind,” its website reads.
During the inaugural service, Levin showed the sacrament box, saying “This is the box we keep our sacrament in. Unfortunately, there is no sacrament in it today, so just pretend folks!”
The congregants numbering to a hundred followed suit and pretended to pass joints after puffing from them, news said.